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Solar Guide for Air Conditioning

Solar Guide for Air Conditioning

A tropical summer has left many of us held up in our air-conditioned homes. Some of us are yet to have our air-conditioning installed, perhaps while waiting for a switchboard upgrade.

The following guide will outline what to consider in order to maximise your solar system for your air conditioning needs.

Temperature Coefficient

Temperature coefficient (Pmax) refers to the amount of panel efficiency lost for every 1°C over 25°C. The general number is 0.5% loss for each 1°C as a standard variable. Skimming a few datasheets, the number tends to be around -0.35%/°C, the closer to 0 the better. 

A temperature coefficient less than -0.42%/°C is considered standard. A temperature coefficient at or above -0.38%/°C is considered good.

The best temperature coefficient on the market is around -0.24%/°C.

On a 40° day the worst case is a 6% efficiency loss. This is an estimate as the temperature will change during the day.

Air Conditioning

Ensure that your roof is properly insulated and that all air gaps in doorways and windows are addressed. 

The first step in sizing your solar system is to determine the power requirements of your air conditioner. This can be a bit tricky, as the power rating of electrical appliances like air conditioners is not always readily available. However, for grid-connected purposes, we are mainly interested in the average power consumption. For example, let’s assume we have a 7kW split system air conditioner with a peak load of 2.5kW. Using some estimation, we can assume an average running load of 2kW.

The next step is to calculate the daily energy consumption of your air conditioner during the hottest days. Simply multiply the average power consumption by the expected running hours. For instance, if your air conditioner runs for 16 hours a day, the daily energy consumption would be 32kWh.

Now, it’s time to determine the energy requirements for the hottest month. To find out the daily kWh energy production per installed kW of solar in the hottest month for your location, you can use the PVWatts website or consult with a solar installer. Let’s assume we have 5.0kWh per day energy production per kilowatt of solar installed during February.

Finally, to calculate the required solar panel capacity, divide your air conditioner’s daily energy consumption by the daily kWh energy production per kilowatt of solar. In our example, it would be 32kWh divided by 5.0kWh, resulting in a required rooftop solar capacity of 6.4kW.

It is important to note that this method does not take into account any other household loads. It is solely focused on determining the solar energy requirements to cover air conditioner use during the hottest time of the year in a grid-connected system. Designing a household rooftop solar system involves many other considerations, and it is advisable to consult with a professional installer to ensure the best results for your specific needs.

FAQs

Q: Can solar power effectively run an air conditioning system?

A: Yes, solar power can effectively run an air conditioning system. With advancements in solar technology and the availability of efficient solar panels, it is possible to generate enough electricity from solar energy to power air conditioning units.

Q: Can solar power run air conditioning at night or during cloudy days?

A: Solar power alone may not be sufficient to run an air conditioning system at night or during cloudy days when sunlight is limited. However, energy storage solutions, such as batteries, can be used to store excess solar energy generated during the day and provide power for the air conditioning system when sunlight is not available.

Q: Will solar power be enough to run air conditioning during hot summer days?

A: Solar power can be enough to run air conditioning during hot summer days, especially if the system is properly sized and designed to meet the cooling demands of the space. It is important to consider factors such as the size of the air conditioning unit, insulation levels, and energy efficiency to ensure that the solar power generated is sufficient to meet the cooling needs.

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